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InsightWoo Battery Material Group

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We're going to dive into something groundbreaking battery technology - the LMFP battery.


In May 2023, Gotion Hi-tech unveiled their LMFP battery - Astroinno L600, and the numbers are seriously impressive. The battery cell now boasts an incredible 240Wh/kg in energy density, while the battery pack comes in at a remarkable 190Wh/kg.



First and foremost, to understand what an LMFP battery is, we need to first grasp what an LFP battery is. The primary distinction between the two lies in the cathode materials of the battery. In an LFP battery, the chemical composition of the cathode materials consists of lithium iron phosphate, while an LMFP battery, it introduces additional metal elements, specifically manganese, into the cathode materials.


Energy Density

You might be wondering, why bother with manganese? Well, here's the thing – adding manganese boosts the energy density by about 20% compared to a regular LFP battery. Now, some of you might be asking, "What's energy density, anyway?"


When we talk about a battery's energy density, we're essentially talking about the amount of energy it can unleash per kilogram. Now, regular LFP cells have pretty much maxed out around an energy density of 190Wh/kg.


According to CATL's annual report for 2022, the world biggest battery maker, their LFP battery cell falls within the energy density range of 165 to 200 Wh/kg.




With LMFP cells, we're talking about an energy density that can soar all the way up to a staggering 240 Wh/kg. High energy density also means the battery can store more energy in every one cell, minimizing the weight and size of the pack. Specifically, the number and weight of pack parts of Gotion’s LMFP battery are reduced by 45% and 32% respectively, its pack energy density can reach to 190 wh/kg, which is 26% higher than that of average LFP battery pack.


Hang on, why pack level energy density is lower than that of cell level?



Firstly, it's crucial to understand the fundamental difference between a battery cell and a battery pack. A battery cell is the individual unit that does the heavy lifting, converting chemical energy into electrical energy. These cells come in various shapes and sizes, like prismatic, pouch, and cylindrical.


Now, when we talk about a battery pack, it's a whole different ball game. It's like a family reunion, with multiple battery modules coming together, each of which consists of numerous cells. These modules add up to provide increased voltage and capacity, and when you put all the modules together, you get the battery pack. But here's the kicker – assembling modules and packs is more about mechanical work, whereas producing battery cells is primarily a chemical process.


Secondly, packs are like a treasure trove of internal components. You've got your battery management systems (BMS), thermal management systems, high and low voltage circuits, and more. These components are crucial for safety, performance, and control. However, they do come with a downside – they take up space and add weight, and that's why the energy density of the entire battery system at the pack level tends to be lower than at the individual cell level.


Compare with NCM

When we look at the energy density of Gotion's LMFP cells at 240 Wh/kg, it's clear that they've crossed a crucial threshold. Average NCM battery cells used in BEV fall within the range of 220-300 Wh/kg. This means that Gotion's LMFP cells have not only caught up with but even exceeded the lower end of the energy density range for NCM chemistry.




According to Gotion, their LMFP battery technology has reached a level comparable to NCM523 chemistry, and they've managed to achieve an astonishing driving range of 1,000 kilometers without relying on NCM materials.


Cost effectiveness

In order to enter into mass production, LMFP battery has to be cost effective. Because the only difference between LMFP and LFP battery relies on its cathode materials, let’s have a look at a leading LMFP cathode producer - Ronbay Technology. According to the company’s 2022 annual report, Ronbay is the only company who realized LMFP cathode mass prodcution in the year with a production capacity of 6,200 ton.



Ronbay’s 2023 interim report says its overal LMFP cathode materials cost is close to that of LFP.





But when you factor in energy density, LMFP cathode materials has a higher energy density comparing to the same amount of LFP materials leading to a cheaper per wh/kg cost battery. Gotion, for example, it says its LMFP battery is 5% cheaper per wh/kg than that of LFP battery. That would be as much as 20 to 25% cheaper than NCM battery.


Phase out LFP & NCM?

Now, let's explore an important question: with LMFP surpassing LFP and low-nickel NCM batteries in energy density and cost-effectiveness, could it potentially replace these alternatives in the near future? To answer that, we need to dig deeper into other crucial battery performance factors, including cycle life, safety, rapid charging capability, and operating voltage. Here's what we've discovered:


Out of these factors, LFP has just a slight edge in terms of cycle life and rapid charge performance, low-nickel NCM has slightely higher operating voltage compared to LMFP. However, when it comes to safety, energy density, and cost-effectiveness, LMFP either matches or outperforms both LFP and low-nickel NCM batteries.




In addition, according to International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2022, LFP and low-nickel NCM electric battery chemistry held market shares of 27% and 4% globally.



While in China, according to Mitsui's monthly report, August 2023, LFP battery had taken over 60% market shares in 2022. (The decrease in market share in previous years was influenced by the subsidy policies.)



So, it comes to the question of whether LFP and low-nickel NCM batteries' market shares will be replaced by LMFP chemistry? I’d like to hear your comments below down.



Who are developing LMFP battery now?

Firstly, Gotion is developing its Astroinno L600 LMFP battery!

In early 2023, Gotion officially obtained accreditation qualifications from the Volkswagen, and expects its mass prodcution to be as early at the 2nd quarter of 2024.


Next is CATL’s M3P battery, which is a quasi-LMFP battery that combines ternary materials of the phosphate system with magnesium, zinc, aluminum, and other metal elements, as well as LMFP materials. CATL’s M3P battery cell energy density reported has reached to 210Wh/kg, and has been in mass prodution in 2022. On september the 1st 2023, the modified Tesla Model 3 produced at the Tesla’s Shanghai facotory was realsed and equipped with CATL’s M3P battery.



Other power LMFP battery developers in China include BYD, CALB 180 wh/kg, EVE 235 wh/kg, Sunwoda 235wh/kg, Farasis Energy 240 wh/kg, SVOLT 220 wh/kg, JEVE 220 wh/kg, REPT;


In addition, Xingheng Power, a portable mobile battery producer and Tianneng Corporate (176wh/kg), a electric Scooter Power Battery producer are also developing LMFP batteries.


Overall, almost all Chinese leading power battery makers are in the middle of developing or already in mass production of LMFP batteries.


What about the development outside China?

Well, to answer this question, let’s have a look of who are the key players worldwide. According to Korean SNE Research, in2022, the world’s top 10 non-China’s battery makers by market share are LG Enery, Panasonic, SK On and Samsung SDI.



LG Energy is now under developing of LFP power batteries aiming to have higher performance than those made by CATL, and targets to launch it in 2025 to supply to Tesla. Considering that LMFP technology is advancing rapidly, it could be beneficial for them to develop and lauch LMFP power battery simutaneously.








Panasonic

Panasonic, on the other hand, according to a news in January, it says “We don’t make LFP. We focus very much on cylindrical batteries — that’s more of the high-end, very powerful cars, large SUVs, and quite frankly luxury-style cars.”




SK On

South Korea’s SK on is planning to mass produce LFP EV battery by 2025.


Sumsung SDI

However, among Korean battery makers, Samsung SDI seems moving faster in the market. According to Business Korea, Samsung demonstrated its latest LMFP battery technology this year for the first time at a battery conference in Munich, Germany, marking the company's official entry into the LMFP battery market.



In addition, Samsung will also likely build the South Korean first LFP battery plant in its korean production base. However, it has yet to decide whether it will make LFP batteries for EVs or energy storage systems.




GM & Mitra Chem

Apart from Korean battery makers, in the US, the cheaper battery materials are also pursuing by automakers. General Motors backed Mitra Chem in California will help the automaker develop advanced iron-based cathode materials such as LMFP that could be used in some of GM's next-generation Ultium batteries after 2025.




To sum it up, ex-China's global market has just started developing LFP battery technology, and few companies are simultaneously developing LMFP technology. We believe due to concerns about the impact of high EV prices on consumer demand, both LFP and LMFP batteries will start to play a significant role on a global scale.

To hear more about LFP market development, welcome to our 2nd battery materials conference in Shanghai on November 30. (click event link below)




Global Lithium Co. Management Talk

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